Monday, April 15, 2013

Take Charge of Your Health! {With Printables}

This Friday, I'm giving a presentation on some healthy lifestyle basics to a group of employees at a cancer center where I volunteer. The staff is doing a weight loss challenge this month, and they asked me to come and speak to them about some simple things they can do--they want to win! I agreed, and I thought it might be helpful to share the resources I'm putting together for them.

Click here to access the flyer version of the presentation below.

Click here to download the health log I put together (see notes at the bottom of this post regarding the health log).

I love this graphic from Susan Albers, PsyD. Take time to read over it and really think about how you can apply mindful eating principles to your daily life. Some things to consider:
  • What triggers you to eat?
  • Do you tend to crave unhealthy foods?
  • How often do you snack in front of the TV?
  • Do you ever think about seconds while you’re eating your first serving?
  • Do you stop eating before you’re full? (Remember the 20 minute rule--it takes 15-20 minutes for the signals of fullness from your stomach to be sent to your brain, so eat slowly and give yourself time!)

  • Find something you enjoy! Pilates? Swimming? Walking? Dancing?
  • Do something active for 30 minutes every day—make it a part of your routine!
  • Focus on strength, flexibility, and endurance more than weight loss.

  • Keep track of what you’re eating so you can see what nutrients you’re getting and what you’re missing. You have to keep track to stay on track! There are plenty of online sites and apps where you can do this paperlessly (see resources below), but if you like to have something real to write on, I'm attaching a printable to help you keep track of your intake (see notes for how to use the printout)!
  • Make your meals and snacks count—focus on “nutrient density.” This means that your food should have a greater proportion of vitamins and minerals in it compared to calories. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains are good examples of nutrient dense foods.

  • Make a grocery list of healthy foods, including lots of fresh fruits and veggies for snacks, and stick to that list! It's much easier to eat healthy when the unhealthy foods aren't readily available.
  • Eat out less. When you do eat out, check the menu and nutrition facts online first so you can make informed choices.

  • Write down what you ate yesterday, including condiments and snacks. What could you cut without missing it?
  • Switch from whole milk to low-fat or fat-free.
  • Switch from sugary cereals to fiber-rich cereals.
  • Pick at least one snack to replace with a vegetable (swap out pretzels for carrots, for example).
  • Eat your salads with less non-vegetable extras. Swap out creamy dressings like Ranch or French dressing for oil-and-vinegar dressings (such as Italian dressings or vinaigrettes), and limit the croutons and cheese.
  • Bake foods instead of frying them.
  • Cut 1/4 of the fat (butter, margarine, and oil) and sugar from some of your favorite recipes--you should be able to cut this much without noticing a big difference or greatly impacting the texture of the food. You can also try replacing part of the fat with applesauce or pureed prunes.
  • Use more spices. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice can bring out the flavor of sweet foods so that less sugar is needed, and savory spices like basil, oregano, thyme, and pepper can be used instead of salt.
  • Be choosy about your calorie dense foods. Eat small amounts of the ones you really enjoy, so you don't feel like you're depriving yourself. Let things you don't enjoy immensely, go. (For example, I love cheesecake--one of the most absolutely calorie dense desserts ever created. I don't love donuts; in fact, I find them kind of tasteless--but if they're in the break room, I tend to eat them anyway! So I've made a rule that I won't eat the donuts, but if there is cheesecake, I allow myself a few bites--which is really all it takes.)
  • This is only a brief listing. What simple substitutions or changes have you made/can you make?


Nutrition/Exercise Tracking (most of these are also available in app form):
Online Exercise Routines:

What are your favorite resources for nutrition and exercise?


On the back page, you can use your total daily calorie needs to figure out the Calorie deficit you are creating each day. 3500 Calories = 1 Pound, so a 500 Calorie deficit each day should cause about a 1 pound loss each week. Keep in mind that no calculation of total daily needs is perfectly accurate, and you should always talk to your doctor before starting any kind of weight loss regimen. 

To calculate your approximate total daily needs, first calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the minimum amount of Calories your body uses each day if all you do is breathe, using this link. Then click on the Harris Benedict Equation link from that page to calculate what you need with some exercise factored in. Use this number in the Total Daily Needs blank at the bottom of the second page.

Regarding the Weigh-In, I suggest doing this no more than once or twice a week. Any fluctuations from one day to the next are likely just changes in water weight, because it's nor really feasible to lose a pound of fat in a single day. Make sure you're weighing yourself at the same time of day (same fullness and hydration state) as well to make the changes as accurate as possible.

I hope this is a helpful resource to you should you choose to use it! Please let me know if you have any questions about it or suggestions for improvement. Feel free to print as many copies as you like and use it for anything for which you think it would be helpful!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

They Would Have Called Her Beautiful Before (A Sketch)

A spray of dirty rainwater awoke her and she looked up to see the weathered tires spinning past into the dreary gray morning. She was tired and weathered herself, and her upturned face invited the fat droplets that shook her worn frame. Rain was supposed to be revitalizing, but instead it just made her weary. Rain like the day she was here to commemorate. And it was still raining; rain day after day, as if it had never stopped at all.

An SUV sputtered by, and a little boy peered out the tinted backseat window at her. Children were the only ones who ever seemed to notice. His nose was pressed up against the glass, his nostrils fogging the window in two small ovals. But his eyes only lingered on her for a moment as they passed, quickly leaping forward to some new object of interest along the roadside.


His name, so lovingly and tearfully inscribed with a black Crayola on the small wooden cross next to her, had long ago washed away, ink leaching into the dark soil and disappearing. Forgotten. She was the only one left to mark that he had ever driven down this road; the sole memorial of the anxious moment before the boy in the SUV started watching but after the rain started and then never stopped; the dreamlike Newtonian nightmare when two sliding objects stayed in motion and he was laid to rest.

She was tired of being the only one to remember.

He was one moment here, the next moment evanescent. And yet she was tied down, ageless yet dying slowly in the rain that never stopped. Would never stop until her last weary silk rose petal fell and washed away toward the ocean with all the rest.